FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

[ General ] [ Debtor ] [ Creditor ]

Disclaimer: While the information presented is accurate as of the date of publication, it should not be cited or relied upon as legal authority. It is highly recommended that legal advice be obtained from a bankruptcy attorney. Please also refer to the United States Code ( you will need to enter "11" under "Title" and the number of the section you want to see under "Section"), the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Bankruptcy Rules for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado. Finally, if you do not understand terms used in these questions and responses, many of them are defined in Bankruptcy Basics issued by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Click here to view the Bankruptcy Basics Video in English.
Click here to view the Bankruptcy Basics Video in Spanish.

Please be advised that deadlines in bankruptcy are extremely important and the failure to observe them or to act timely can jeopardize your rights, claims or interests in the case.

Some of the responses to these questions vary depending upon whether your case was filed before October 17, 2005, the effective date for most of the changes to the Bankruptcy Code. Where there are notations of date specific responses, apply the response that corresponds to when your case was filed.

Please be aware that through January 20, 2006, 81% of the cases dismissed under the new provisions of the Bankruptcy Code were filed by debtors who did not have an attorney.

The Court staff cannot give legal advice under Title 28 U.S.C. Section 955.

The Clerk's office CANNOT

General Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Bankruptcy?
2. What is the Bankruptcy Code?
3. Is the Bankruptcy Court a State or Federal Court?
4. Who can file bankruptcy?
5. What are the different "Chapters" in bankruptcy?
6. What is a Bankruptcy Trustee? Who is the U.S. Trustee? What is the difference?
7. How do I file a document with the Court?
8. How can I get information about a case?
9. Where can I get a copy of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure?
10. What are Local Bankruptcy Rules? Where can I get a copy of them?
11. What is a motion?
12. What is a Certificate of Service?
13. How do I get Certified Copies of Documents from the Clerk's Office?
14. Will the Court fax documents to me?
15. What if a Case I am interested in has been sent to the "Archives"?
16. May I speak directly with a Bankruptcy Judge?
17. What is an Adversary Proceeding?
18. How do I get to the Court?
19. What are the Court's hours of operation?
20. Will the U.S. Bankruptcy Court provide and pay for an interpreter for me?

1. What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a set of federal laws and rules that can help individuals and businesses who owe more debt than they can pay. In bankruptcy, the person, corporation, or partnership that owes money is called the debtor. Bankruptcy permits the debtor to work out a plan to repay some or all of the debt, to liquidate assets, or to have some of the debt forgiven ("discharged") in an effort to obtain a "fresh start". The bankruptcy laws give the debtor protection and benefits not available outside of bankruptcy, such as requiring that creditors stop all collection efforts while the debtor is in bankruptcy, unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court. In bankruptcy, a debtor must make full disclosure of all assets, liabilities, and other financial information, and must either (1) surrender non-exempt (protected) property for liquidation and distribution to creditors, or (2) formulate a plan providing creditors at least as much as they would receive if the assets were liquidated.
Return to top

2. What is the Bankruptcy Code?

The Bankruptcy Code is a federal law, Title 11 of the United States Code. It provides help for individuals and businesses in financial difficulty while at the same time dealing with their creditors evenhandedly. The Bankruptcy Code is divided into several chapters. Chapters 7, 11, and 13 are the most commonly used. Each of these chapters offers debtors a different set of options for dealing with debt. The Bankruptcy Code is available in law libraries, or on the internet at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/11/.
Return to top

3. Is the Bankruptcy Court a State or Federal Court?

The Bankruptcy Court is a federal court. It is a unit of each U.S. District Court. The state of Colorado comprises the federal District of Colorado.
Return to top

4. Who can file bankruptcy?

A person, partnership, corporation, or business trust may file a bankruptcy case. Corporations, partnerships and business trusts cannot proceed if they are not represented by an attorney. Only an individual can proceed without an attorney. However, the bankruptcy process is extremely complex, and individuals are strongly encouraged to seek competent bankruptcy counsel.

If a person or the entity who owes the money, called the debtor, starts the bankruptcy, it is called a voluntary bankruptcy. If a creditor or creditors start the bankruptcy, it is called an involuntary bankruptcy. In an involuntary bankruptcy, the debtor has an opportunity to respond to the petition and show why the debtor should not be in bankruptcy.
Return to top

5. What are the different "Chapters" in bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 is the liquidation chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 cases are often referred to as "straight bankruptcy" or "liquidation" cases. They may be filed by an individual, a corporation, or a partnership. Under Chapter 7, a trustee is appointed to collect and sell all property that is not mortgaged or exempt and to use any proceeds to pay creditors. In the case of an individual, the debtor is allowed to claim certain property as exempt pursuant to federal bankruptcy law and Colorado law. An individual debtor gets a discharge, which means the debtor does not have to pay certain types of debts. Corporations and partnerships do not receive discharges.

Chapters, other than Chapter 7, require the confirmation of a plan of reorganization or liquidation and it is extremely difficult to obtain confirmation of a plan without an attorney.

Chapter 9 provides for bankruptcy relief for municipalities and governmental units. This chapter can be used by school districts, water districts, etc.

Chapter 12 is for use by those who qualify as "family farmers" under the Bankruptcy Code. There is a maximum debt a Chapter 12 debtor may have, and a certain portion of the debtor's income must come from operation of a farming business. Family farmers must propose a plan to repay their creditors from future income over a period of time. The plan must be approved by the Court. Plan payments are made through the Chapter 12 trustee, who also monitors the debtor's farming business operations while the case is pending.

Chapter 11 is the reorganization chapter available to businesses and individuals who have substantial debts or income to restructure and repay their debts. Creditors vote on whether to accept or reject a plan of reorganization, which must also be approved by the Court. In addition to the case filing fee, Chapter 11 debtors must pay a quarterly fee to the United States Trustee. There is no debt limit under Chapter 11. Debtors who qualify as "small businesses" may receive "fast track" treatment under Chapter 11. To be considered a "small business", a debtor must be engaged in commercial or business activities, other than the ownership of real estate, and the total of the debtor's secured plus unsecured debts must be less than $2,190,000.

Chapter 13 is the debt repayment chapter for individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed $360,745 in unsecured debts and $1,081,400 in secured debts, including individuals who operate businesses as sole proprietorships. Corporations and partnerships cannot file under Chapter 13. Chapter 13 generally allows a debtor to keep property by repaying creditors out of future income. Each chapter 13 debtor proposes a repayment plan which must be approved by the Court. The amounts set forth in the plan must be paid to the Chapter 13 Trustee, who distributes the funds for a small fee. Some nondischargeable debts can be paid over time in a Chapter 13 plan. After the completion of all the plan payments, over three to five years, Chapter 13 debtors receive a discharge of most debts.
Return to top

6. What is a Bankruptcy Trustee? Who is the U.S. Trustee? What is the difference?

In all Chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases, and in some Chapter 11 cases, a trustee is assigned. In Chapter 7 cases they are called a "panel trustee," and a group of some two dozen trustees are assigned by rotation. In Chapter 12 and Chapter 13, the trustee is always the same, and is called the "standing trustee." That means that your Chapter 12 trustee will likely always be the same person, and your Chapter 13 trustee will always be the same person. The trustee's job is to administer the bankruptcy case, or the bankruptcy estate, to make sure creditors are treated as contemplated by the Bankruptcy Code, and to preside over the meeting of creditors. The trustee either collects and sells non-exempt property, as in the case of a Chapter 7, or collects and pays out money from a repayment plan, as in the case of a Chapter 12 or Chapter 13. The trustee can require that you provide, under penalty of perjury, information and documents, either before, during, or after the meeting of creditors. Failure to cooperate with the trustee could be grounds to have your discharge denied. Trustees are generally, but not always, lawyers. They are appointed by the United States Trustee. Their fees come out of the bankruptcy filing fees or of the money collected in a bankruptcy case.

Trustees are not your attorney, they do not represent you, they work on behalf of the bankruptcy estate and all of its creditors.

The United States Trustee's Office is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and is separate from the court. The United States Trustee's Office is a "watchdog" agency, charged with monitoring bankruptcy cases, appointing and supervising all trustees, and identifying fraud in bankruptcy cases. The United States Trustee's Office cannot give you legal advice, but they can give you information about the status of a case. If you are having problems with a trustee, or have evidence of fraud in a case, you can contact them. The United States Trustee's Office reviews all bankruptcy petitions and pleadings filed in cases, and participates in many proceedings, but they do not administer specific cases. The trustees whom they appoint administer the cases. They can file motions in the bankruptcy case, such as a motion to dismiss the case or convert it to another Chapter.
Return to top

7. How do I file a document with the Court?

Attorneys who have been through a special training course and who are authorized to be "electronic filers" may file documents electronically. For non-electronic filers, bankruptcy petitions, pleadings, and other documents may be tendered to the Court by mail at United States Bankruptcy Court, 721 Nineteenth Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-2508, or in person at the public counters in room 116 of the Bankruptcy Clerk's Office at the same address.
Return to top

8. How can I get information about a case?

There are several ways you can get information about a case:

1. If you have access to a computer with internet access, you can get access to the Court's electronic records through PACER. In order to use PACER, you must open a PACER account. You can do that by calling (800) 676-6856 or (210) 301-6440 to get a registration form, or you can apply online at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/register.html. It takes about a week to receive your login and password from the PACER service center. Once you are registered, you can access PACER through the internet or with a dial-up number. PACER costs are billed quarterly. Accessed on the internet, the cost is $.08 per page for downloading case information. Accessed through the dial-up number, the cost is $.60 per minute.

2. You can come to the Clerk's Office, on the first floor of the Custom House, 721 Nineteenth Street, Denver, Colorado 80202-2508. All files are electronically maintained and are available for public viewing and copying on weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding federal holidays. There is a charge for making copies of documents from case files. Click here to see fee chart for charges.

3. You can call the Voice Case Information System (VCIS) at 866-222-8029 and enter the state abbreviation CO(26) or enter the Court code 22.
Return to top

9. Where can I get a copy of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure?

The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure are available at law libraries and online at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/11/.
Return to top

10. What are Local Bankruptcy Rules? Where can I get a copy of them?

The Local Bankruptcy Rules for the District of Colorado supplement the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Bankruptcy Official forms by providing guidance for cases filed in Colorado. The Local Rules are very important because they contain information about filing cases and pleadings that are specific to the Colorado Bankruptcy Court. You may obtain a copy of the Local Rules online at the Bankruptcy Court's website, http://www.cob.uscourts.gov or purchased for $5.00 at the counter in room 116 of the Bankruptcy Court.
Return to top

11. What is a motion?

A motion is a written statement in which a party requests action by the Court. The motion sets forth the request, and the grounds for the request. The rules about filing different kinds of motions, and the time limits and notice requirements, are complex. Therefore, you are strongly urged to consult a bankruptcy attorney.
Return to top

12. What is a Certificate of Service?

When you file a motion or pleading with the Court, you must file a written statement that you have mailed or delivered a copy of the motion to all interested parties. This is called a certificate of service. You must list the name and address of each person and attorney being served with the motion, and the name of the party each attorney represents, and you, your attorney, or an employee of your attorney must sign the certificate. It is very important to file a certificate of service with your pleadings. The Court may deny your relief if you do not file a certificate of service. Because the service of a pleading is critical to obtain the relief that you request, you are strongly urged to consult a bankruptcy attorney.
Return to top

13. How do I get Certified Copies of Documents from the Clerk's Office?

You must request the copies in person or in writing, and prepay a fee for copying and processing. Click here to see fee chart.
Return to top

14. Will the Court fax documents to me?

No, the ONLY exception is that the Court will fax to a debtor one copy of his or her discharge. Because search and copy fees must be prepaid pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1930, documents cannot be faxed to requesting parties. Upon payment of the required fees, search results can be mailed to you or picked up at the Clerk's Office.
Return to top

15. What if a Case I am interested in has been sent to the "Archives"?

To retrieve copies of documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, you must obtain the (1) accession number, (2) location, and (3) box number from the Clerk's Office. You then submit an Archive Request Form which may be downloaded from the National Archives web site at http://www.archives.gov/records_center_program/of_11.pdf.
Return to top

16. May I speak directly with a Bankruptcy Judge?

No. Federal law prohibits any contact with the Judge outside the Courtroom in order to preserve the impartiality of the Court and to prevent the appearance of any impropriety or allegations of preferential treatment of any party.
Return to top

17. What is an Adversary Proceeding?

An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit arising in or related to a particular bankruptcy case. It is commenced by filing a Complaint with the Court, and is given a separate case number. The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Local Bankruptcy Rules state which actions must be brought as adversary proceedings, and the rules and procedures pertaining to adversary proceedings. Adversary proceedings are extremely complex, so you are strongly urged to consult with a bankruptcy attorney.
Return to top

18. How do I get to the Court?

In Denver, take the Park Avenue exit from either northbound or southbound I-25. Follow Park Avenue to Broadway and take a right at Broadway. Follow Broadway to California Street and take a right on California. The U.S. Custom House, where the Court is located, occupies the entire block from California Street to Stout Street. The address is 721 Nineteenth Street. There are parking meters and parking lots located close to the Custom House building.
Return to top

19. What are the Court's hours of operation?

The Court is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 11:30 am and 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm, except for federal holidays. New petitions submitted for filing after 4:15 pm without any fee will be accepted for filing that day, but may not be processed until the following morning. We no longer accept payments in our office over the counter after 4:15 p.m. You will need to lodge your payment and/or any documents in our after hours secured box on the first floor after 4:15 and we will mail your receipt and any other applicable documents the following business day, this INCLUDES payments for copies.Click here for a list of federal holidays.
Return to top

20. Will the U.S. Bankruptcy Court provide and pay for an interpreter for me?

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has adopted procedures for providing auxiliary aid and services to participants in court proceedings who are hearing impaired or have other physical or communication disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please contact the Clerk's Office at 720-904-7302 for assistance in this regard; the Clerk's Office would appreciate at least two weeks advance notice of the need for an interpreter. (If you need similar assistance for the Meeting of Creditors held before a trustee, please contact the United States Trustee's Office at 303-312-7230.)

If you require a language interpreter in a hearing or trial held before a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge, the court will pay for this service in matters where the United States is the plaintiff or movant. Please contact the Clerk's Office at 720-904-7302 for assistance in this regard. In all other circumstances, it is not the obligation of the Court to pay for or to provide an interpreter.
Return to top

U.S. Bankruptcy Court - District of Colorado - General FAQs